Clock Tower

The Torre dell'Orologio, or Clock Tower, Venice
The north side of the Piazza San Marco is marked by the beautiful Torre dell'Orologio (clock tower), which dates back to the end of the 15th century.

The clock face bears the signs of the Zodiac and at the very top stand the famous 'Moors', a pair of giant bronze jacks, who have been striking the hours in the city for over five hundred years. 

The clock tower was placed so that it would be seen from the waters of the lagoon. It was yet another sign of the wealth and glory of Venice.
Torre dell'Orologio, Venice
The floor below the bell-jacks, sports the winged lion of Venice, a paw resting on an open book.
The Virgin and Child on the Torre dell'Orologio, Venice
Below the lion we see the Virgin and Child flanked by two large blue panels showing the time (the hours in Roman numerals, the minutes, in five minute intervals, in Arabic). 

If you are in the city on the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th) or on Ascension day, you will witness the clock tower's star turn. On the hour, statues of the three Magi troop out of one of the doorways, led by an angel with a trumpet. The four figures march in procession round the gallery before disappearing through the other door. 

The clock-face of the Torre dell'Orologio, or Clock Tower, Venice
The great blue and gold clock face sits in a marble circle engraved with the twenty four hours of the day in Roman numerals. A golden pointer marked with an image of the sun moves round the circle marking the hours. The gilded signs of the zodiac also rotate to indicate the position of the sun in the constellations. In the centre of the clock face is the earth and the moon (which revolves slowly to indicate its phases). 

There is no truth to the legend that the two clock-makers, Paolo and Carlo Ranieri, laboured away for three years only to have their eyes gouged out on completion of their work (so as to prevent them from repeating their achievement for anyone else). On the contrary, they were handsomely rewarded with a state pension and their eyes were left intact.